Articles | Volume 10, issue 7
06 Apr 2010
 | 06 Apr 2010

Trans-Pacific transport of Asian dust and CO: accumulation of biomass burning CO in the subtropics and dipole structure of transport

J. Nam, Y. Wang, C. Luo, and D. A. Chu

Abstract. In May 2003, both MODIS aerosol optical depth (AOD) and carbon monoxide (CO) measurements from MOPITT show significant trans-Pacific transport to North America. We apply the global chemical transport model, GEOS-Chem, to analyze the main features of the long-range transport events. Enhancements of MOPITT CO over the tropical Pacific are much broader than MODIS AOD enhancements. We find in model simulations that a major fraction of the CO enhancements in the subtropics in May is due to biomass burning in Southeast Asia in April. Biomass burning CO was recirculated into the subtropical high-pressure system and lingered for a much longer period than aerosols transported at higher latitudes. Simulated AOD enhancements are due to a combination of dust, sulfate, and organic and elemental carbons. Dust contribution dominates the AOD enhancements in early May. Model results indicate that dust transport takes place at higher altitude than the other aerosols. MODIS observations indicate a bias in model simulated pathway of dust transport in one out of the three cases analyzed. Sensitivities of dust transport pathways are analyzed in the model. The dipole structure of transport, consisting of the Aleutian Low to the north and the Pacific High to the south, over the Pacific is found to be a key factor. The placement of the dipole structure relative to model parameters such as up-stream wind field and source location may lead to the high sensitivity of simulated transport pathways.

Final-revised paper